We’ve just finished a cool project for the Regional Municipality of York called Water Works. We were tasked with creating some short but cool and interesting videos about the water infrastructure system in York Region. We were a bit uncertain about how to achieve the ‘cool and interesting’ thing, until we went out and scouted the facilities. Holy cow! This stuff is huge. Massive underground chambers that store drinking water, motors that are ten feet tall driving pumps as big as a small car, and a processing facility the size of a village that cleans the waste water of a million people a day.
We divided the whole system into three parts: moving water around, treating both raw water and used water, and ways to protect source water; and made a short (3 min) documentary about each one: Move It, Treat It, Source It. Granted the making of was a little intense at times: like inside the chamber six stories deep where the raw sewage of about 750,000 people gets sifted and then pumped about 20km to the Duffin Creek treatment plant. But then there was the incinerator at Duffin Creek which efficiently burns all of the solids that settle out of that sewage, and leaves nothing but a harmless ash – in fact the ash is useful as an additive to concrete.
It is amazing to realize that there is this immense system, operating 24 hours a day, delivering this vital thing for everyone – water. And, even more importantly, instantly gets rid of all the water we send down the drain or flush down the toilet. They cleverly use gravity to keep energy needs to a minimum, they have to build in enough capacity for hundreds of thousands of people to flush every morning, and be robust enough to contend with power outages or huge rainfalls without polluting rivers or lakes. And it’s all done right under our feet, without most folks ever noticing. It was pretty great to have a hand in tell this story.